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TikTok, the hugely popular video-sharing app with over 1.5 billion downloads, announced that it has hired cybersecurity veteran, Roland Cloutier, as its first chief information security officer. The announcement comes as TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese internet giant, ByteDance, attempts to appease concerns from U.S. lawmakers and regulators over potential security risks and data privacy issues.
Cloutier joins TikTok from payroll-processing company ADP, where he served as chief security officer, overseeing the company's cyber, information protection, risk, workforce protection, crisis management, and investigative security operations worldwide. He also spent more than a decade serving the United States Air Force, Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs.
U.S. lawmakers have expressed concerns that the app censors content deemed objectionable by the Chinese government and poses a national security threat claiming that it collects and shares user data with the Chinese authorities. TikTok has denied that the Chinese government can access any data on U.S. users. The company also said that it has never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and wouldn’t do so if asked. Several branches of the U.S. military have now banned the app on government-issued smartphones.
Aside from concerns about ties to the Chinese government, multiple security flaws with the TikTok app were reported by researchers at Check Point Software Technologies in January. The Israeli cybersecurity company said that the app had serious vulnerabilities that would let hackers take control of users’ accounts, access private videos and reveal personal information. TikTok said that the security flaws were fixed after it was alerted to the problem by Check Point in November.
According to a company statement, Cloutier will report to TikTok head Alex Zhu, who said that that company has “a clear responsibility to continue to maximize security on our platform.” He added that Cloutier will help the company deliver on that promise.